Paying for College With a Duffle Bag Stuffed With Cash

Last Updated Jan 18, 2011 5:41 PM EST

The other day Nic Ramos, an economics student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, stuffed 14,309 dollar bills, a fifty cent piece and penny into a duffle bag.

Ramos lugged the duffle bag, which weighed 33 pounds, into the university's bursar's office to pay his spring tuition. Ramos had to visit several banks before he accumulated enough single dollar bills to pull off his stunt.

In a YouTube video, the economics major explained that he was paying his tuition in cash to draw attention to the "extremely high" out-of-state tuition at CU.

Do you feel sorry for Ramos?

I don't. And here's why: If Ramos -- or his parents - didn't want to pay top dollar to attend a public university, the Sacramento resident should have stayed in California where he would have qualified for in-state tuition.

Out-of-state flagships like CU are eager to admit students like Ramos, who hail from elsewhere, because they can gouge them. The tuition for Colorado residents is $8,511. For non-residents it's $29,493.

Beware of Out-of-State Tuition

Okay, gouge is probably too strong a word. The tuition for non-residents is actually high for a couple of good reasons. First, why should Coloradan taxpayers underwrite the education of Ramos or any other outsiders? What Ramos is paying should reflect what it costs to educate him without any state subsidies.

Secondly, state universities are hurting financially and they are looking for outsiders (suckers) who are willing to pay private school rates for a state school degree. Colorado is luckier than many flagships in attracting affluent outsiders because a lot of teenagers think it would be cool to live near ski slopes.

If you know what you are doing, it's possible to make out-of-state public universities more affordable. You can learn how in this post:

4 Ways to Cut the Cost of an Out-of-State University

More on CBS MoneyWatch:
How Rich Kids Get College Aid
The Best Places to Find College Cash
5 Reasons to Apply for Financial Aid
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
University of Colorado image by Zach Dischner. CC 2.0.